190. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Dutton) to the Secretary of State1


  • Foreign Relations Committee Session with Secretary McNamara

Following are the principal questions asked by members of the Foreign Relations Committee of Secretary McNamara and General Taylor Tuesday morning:2


What are the differences, if any, among State, Defense, and the CIA on policy in South Viet-Nam? McNamara indicated that there were generally no significant differences. He was questioned at length about the CIA and said that he thought those questions should really be answered by John McCone; at the same time, however, he said that while the CIA had carried out its mission as prepared in Washington, he thought that the assignment had been overly broad (operational in nature) and that this was now being corrected.

He observed that there were also no significant differences between Diem and Nhu, although characterizing Diem as the public figure and Nhu as the real operator, with neither controlling Madame Nhu.

Hickenlooper asked whether there were any differences between Lodge and Richardson and, if so, were these bucked to Secretary Rusk and John McCone? McNamara indicated he was not the best one to answer that question. Hickenlooper was basing his questions on a news article3 which he said had reported that State and the CIA could not agree and had had to go to the White House on it.

Hickenlooper dwelled at length on the incorrectness of the allegations in the October 2 story in the “Daily News” by Richard Stearns [sic] and asked for a point-by-point refutation by McNamara. Hickenlooper indicated he would go over the same ground with the Secretary of State.4 Hickenlooper is concerned primarily with defending the CIA against critical attack.
Senator Morse asked a long series of questions seeking the reason the U.S. is largely going it alone and getting only token assistance from other countries.
Senators Morse, Carlson, Church and Gore, all of whom were most critical of U.S. policy in South Viet-Nam, asked whether there is not an alternative to the present government and whether it was McNamara’s opinion that it could be effective despite the repressions and political difficulties that have been encountered. McNamara kept trying to rephrase this line of questions in terms of whether the Diem Government is the most effective we can get under the circumstances.
Senator Fulbright wanted to know whether more, less, or about the same amount of aid will be needed for South Viet-Nam in the future?
Fulbright wanted to know what the French are doing in South Viet-Nam?
Fulbright wanted to know whether the Hilsman cable5 discussed in the press was, in fact, cleared with the Defense Department and if not, why not? He was also interested in obtaining comments on the substance of the cable.
Confirmation was requested as to the accuracy of the news story that U.S. aid had been cut off for the special force which had led the raid on the pagoda temples, for South Viet-Nam imports and for any other purposes.
Senator Gore asked a long line of questions as to whether an appraisal of the situation in South Viet-Nam was primarily a military or political question and, if the latter, the basis for Defense officials making the basic reexamination of U.S. policy in the area?

Senators Hickenlooper and Lausche generally defended the primary theme of McNamara and Taylor that the U.S. is winning the war in South Viet-Nam notwithstanding the repressions. Morse, Church, Gore and Carlson were sharply critical of it. Fulbright, Aiken, Mansfield and Long did not indicate their views.

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The Committee plans to hear from John McCone on South Viet-Nam on Friday.6

Fred Dutton

P.S. You should also be aware of the attached letter7 which came in yesterday from Senator Morse, setting forth a number of questions on the coup in the Dominican Republic. Morse told me after the committee session today that he has been documenting the extent of interference by American businesses to bring about the coup and apparently intends to make a public case of this.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 66 D 147, FRC Session with McNamara, 10/8/63.
  2. October 8.
  3. The article by Richard Starnes, “‘Arrogant’ CIA Disobeys Orders in Viet Nam,” was published in the Washington Daily News, October 2, 1963.
  4. Hickenlooper covered similar ground with Secretary Rusk, whose testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, October 9, is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 46, Records of the Committee on Foreign Relations-Declassified Executive Session Hearings.
  5. Apparent reference to telegram 243, vol. III, p. 628.
  6. The session with McCone, Thursday, October 10, is scheduled for publication in the Executive Sessions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 1963.
  7. Not found.